Most people avoid online shopping due to mistrust (in the provider/store) or lack of working debit cards. While, we’ll deal with trust in another post; lets venture into the world of virtual prepaid cards and regular prepaid debit cards.
The concept of online shopping has increased by many folds in the recent years, and it is an integral part of the global economy. Many people, though, still cannot shop online due to restrictions placed on them based on their location. Namely, many people cannot order products from certain websites because Pakistan is not supported by that site’s shipping services, or perhaps their bank still does not support online payments.
We have already covered in detail how one can get a parcel forwarding address in order to get the items anywhere in the world but now its time to focus on a payment solution to go with your new address.
Virtual debit cards and Virtual Prepaid Cards are becoming a necessity in the online marketplace. The internet has many dangers including scam virtual debit card sites such as Cliffscard and Safepay. Below is a list of the best virtual and prepaid debit card services out there.
How Virtual Prepaid Cards Work
Virtual debit card providers offer prepaid debit cards that can be accepted globally. Once you sign up with these services, you have to go through a verification process. Getting verified is not very difficult or lengthy especially if you have your smartphone nearby. They ask for certain documents to verify & check you are indeed a registered citizen with a valid residential address, contact number and a bank account or not. Once the documents are verified, you are a free to use your own money via their virtual debit cards.
How? Well you simply have to upload your funds via their allowed methods which can be local bank transfer, wire transfer, Credit/Debit card etc. and then wait for the money to get topped up in your card. After that you can use your virtual prepaid card on any website to purchase anything.
Now for the list of Virtual Prepaid Cards and Prepaid Debit Cards
1 MCB Lite
A very good card for internet use from MCB. The MCB Lite is a prepaid Visa card, enabled for internet payments for local and international transactions. The card is free to signup and use; meaning there is no loading fee or monthly service fees attached to it. There is an annual fee of PKR 300 on all MCB Lite plans though which is a reasonable amount.
Speaking of plans, every new account/card starts at MCB Lite 0 which has an annual limit of PKR 200,000 (deposit & withdrawal). Once you visit a MCB Lite branch and submit some documents, you can upgrade to Lite 1 and Lite 2 for free. Full charges and limits are clearly defined however, they make no mention of the FX charges on foreign currency transactions. Thankfully, one doesnt need to be an MCB account holder to get this card. Though you can avail all the facilities of holding a bank account. From paying utility bills and mobile top ups to sending money to other account holders within MCB network and outside of it via IBFT.
Recently, MCB has enabled the Lite account to receive remittances directly into the mobile wallet. This makes it one of the best & most powerful prepaid cards in the market today. Some of these remittance providers include: Xpress Money, UAE Exchange, MoneyGram, Transfast, EZRemit, Ria,and ACE etc. Also, did we mention that this is a full fledged mobile wallet with its own app? Its not the best with mediocre reviews however, it beats not having any insight into account balance and relying only on text messages and ATM machines.
2 UBL Wiz Card
The first prepaid card to launch in Pakistan is the UBL Wiz card. While they have improved their card tremendously, they are surprisingly (or maybe not surprising?) well behind MCB which came in much later and continues to evolve.
The Wiz card is a bit expensive to maintain and use, not to mention that just having a Wiz card does not mean that you can use it online. No, you have to activate it for internet use (free) and then proceed for an internet session on it for PKR 100. Once the session duration expires, you cannot use it for internet. Best to use this card for one/off purchases and not for monthly subscriptions/recurring payments online.
They do offer a Wiz Internet card which is a prepaid virtual card solely for internet use that has its own limits, however it is nowhere as good as the MCB Lite (on paper atleast). Reloading the Wiz card is only allowed from the UBL branch network, UBL ATMs, UBL netbanking or an OMNI Dukaan. Unfortunately, you cannot load this online through your regular bank account outside of the UBL branch network. The UBL Wiz Internet card is a better option for those looking for a prepaid card to use exclusively online. The internet card doesnt require online activation and there are no session charges. However, there is an annual limit of PKR 100,000 for non-biometric verified cards and PKR 500,000 for verified cards.
3 US Unlocked
US Unlocked is by far the most helpful service out there for international shoppers. They give you a virtual prepaid MasterCard that you can either use once or reload whenever you shop online. How does this work? Well they need some basic info from your end along with a US shipping address from one of their partnered services(names mentioned below). You then need to make a card payment which includes a one-time application fee.
Once your credentials are approved it then takes 2-4 business days for you to get the virtual debit card working. If you order a non-reloadable card then there is no ID verification and you can start using it instantly.
You can load cards through a number of methods; depending on your location. The card allows recurring payments… so your monthly subscriptions for Netflix, Spotify or HuluPlus are all safe. The card can be linked to PayPal and here is how you can do it.
Another unique service that deserves a dedicated review. MoneyPolo gives both physical and virtual prepaid cards to users. Signup is easy and free. Getting yourself verified is the next step and after that, everything is straight forward.
You have the option to get four types of VISA cards with MoneyPolo; Multi-Currency Visa, Virtual Visa, Virtual USD MasterCard and USD MasterCard. As the name suggests, Multi-currency supports EUR, USD, GBP, CHF, JPY, AUD, CAD, NOK, DKK, SEK, SGD, HKD, ZAR, NZD and AED.
You can move the money from or to your card whenever you like. When you are not using the card, just withdraw the remaining money into your bank account or your MoneyPolo account. Virtual Visa Card however, is a perfect solution if you worry about the safety of your private data. Also, unlike ordering regular plastic cards, this virtual card is ready instantly and active for multiple uses.
The Virtual USD MasterCard has no transaction nor maintenance fees and should be used for online payments only. You can have up to 3 cards at once, each limited to a maximum balance of $6500. The USD MasterCard however, is the “material” brother of its Virtual MasterCard. This card is tied to a dollar account too, but it has a bigger limit; maximum $25,000 and can be used anywhere.
MoneyPolo account/card can be loaded via debit/credit cards, wire transfers, Bitcoin, Sibcoin, OKPay, QIWI, Cash transfer (through select outlets in different countries) and Direct Debit.
MoneyPolo recently bought out OK Pay hence now, both services can be used in tandem. It is easy to withdraw funds in your OK Pay wallet into MoneyPolo and vice versa.
Another very good choice for international shoppers wanting to parcel their shipping is EntroPay. You can get a Virtual Debit Card with EntroPay. Sign up is free. Upon successful creation of account, the user is allowed to load 20 bucks of the available currencies they offer (USD, EUR, GBP, AUD etc). Once you submit relevant documentation and become a verified user, the 20 bucks restriction is lifted and is replaced by their regular limits.
You can upload your money via bank account or any credit/debit card at a certain fee. Once you have uploaded your money, you are clear to buy products from websites that accept VISA. Plus, you can also get a prepaid plastic MasterCard with which you can make payments with chip and PIN. The waiting time for uploading money via bank transfer is between 1-3 days. Topups via credit/debit card is instant and expensive. To withdraw money from your card, just go to an ATM and withdraw.
The awesome thing about EntroPay is that there is no annual fees and there is no interest. The website is also 128 bit SSL secured
So, thats a list of Prepaid Debit cards available for online shopping. There is load fees and the bank’s FX rate when you top up/load your card (international cards only). However, once you top up, you don’t suffer losses due to FX fluctuations.
Is there a card we missed that you love to use online? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll check it out.